Help Me Pick a New Latin Outfit!

I’m currently thinking about looking for a new Latin dress/ensemble!

I’ve had the same blue halter dress from eKclothing for the past three years or so for Latin (and occasionally rhythm), so I figured it was time to change things up soon.  It has to be syllabus-friendly (no sparkles/stones/glitter/shiny, sadly), and something interesting.  Basic black is not for this girl, at least not at this time.  So….I figured I’d turn to the Internet for input! Budget is flexible-ish.  Ideally I’d like to spend less, but am willing to fork over a bit more for something really awesome.

Here are some contenders, but I am open to suggestions!

Danceshopper Banded Box Dress not in this blue, but oxblood, a deep red.

Santoria Kardia Dress in purple rather than pink.  Then again, I have a LOT of purple already, including my Latin costume that a friend has borrowed for a while, as well as my syllabus standard/smooth outfit that occasionally comes out to play.  On the other hand, purple works on me.

Dance America Asymmetric Full Flounced Latin Skirt in “Bright Print.” I’d probably pair this with a black tank top or leotard…the full-on print outfit would be a little much, methinks.

Chrisanne Moonlight Latin Dress in Hot Magenta or Fuchsia Pink.  Side note: according to their chart, I am supposed to order this in a size large.  If you know me, I am probably not a typical large size – more along the small/medium spectrum.  Silly Europeans.  Unless they’re trying to imply that us Americans are too fat.  Hmm.

Star Dance Shop Turquoise Skirt – would probably pair this with a black top, but it could go with lots of things like my purple off-the-shoulder top, maybe even white or a black-and-white print top.

VE Dance Carla Skirt in…I have no idea what color! There’s lots of good options.

VE Dance Julia Skirt in Violet or Salmon.  Definitely the most economic option at $45 and the only one I’ve tried on in person (it fits).

Light in the Box Dress in Black with Red accent.  (There’s a red with black belt one, but it  reminds me too much of Mrs. Claus.)  Quality is slightly suspect, but this website has insanely cheap ballroom stuff!

Light in the Box lacy dress in purple…looks more like burgundy to me.  Poor model…that is the derpiest pose ever.

My favorite option at the moment:

Just kidding.  I don’t think I could or would want to pull that off…

I guess I tend to like things with clean lines with some interesting details but not too too much going on.   And generally just above or at the knee, or longer asymmetrical hems.  Color-wise, I tend to gravitate towards blue/purple/red/pink, but am open to others.  I think at my level (gold) you see a mix of colors, but sometimes there’s a LOT of black and red.  I do also like black and white in a print/pattern, but it’s harder to find good options with that.

So…opinions? Please comment with your thoughts!  Also, If you know of other sites with good options, please comment below!

Help Support Vincent and Daisy!

I found out recently that a fellow ballroom dancer, Vincent, has been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor.  The collegiate (and formerly collegiate) ballroom community is very tight-knit and many dance friends have been super supportive of Vincent and his fiancee Daisy during this difficult time.  One of their friends started a crowdfunding campaign to help Vincent and Daisy with medical costs that are not covered by insurance, which has quickly surpassed its initial goal in just a matter of hours!  This is just proof of how  dancers are so generous and take care of one another!

Even if you don’t know them personally, you might have been a customer of theirs or seen them vend as VE Dance, as they have been travelling quite a bit to different dance competitions and events.

Their situation especially hits home for me, as I had a good friend and suitemate in college, Lauren, who lost her fight with cancer at a young age.  Like anyone else, I have known too many people who have had to deal with cancer – some won their fight, others did not, and others are still living with illness.  Any support – monetary, emotional, physical, whatever – is so meaningful to anyone fighting this tough battle.

Please, please consider donating, or passing on this link to others if you cannot do so at this time: Indiegogo: Medical funding for Vincent and Daisy.

Relatedly, Beata, a world champion dancer, is also fighting against cancer, and a page has been set up for her support as well: Partner with Beata.

USA Dance Nationals 2015

So, here’s a quick update on USA Dance Nationals, which took place in Baltimore at the end of March.  (There’s another NDCA Nationals that occurred in Utah a few weeks earlier – I haven’t been to that but it looks awesome.)  We danced novice and pre-champ standard and pre-champ/champ smooth.  Similarly to MAC, we had one event on Saturday and the other three on Sunday. Yikes…fortunately, they were spread out between 8 am and around 8 pm, thereby reducing the chance of dance-exhaustion, which is never fun.  However, dancing pre-champ standard at 8 in the morning was also not fun…part of the reason to move up to open is so that you don’t have to dance first event of the day!

Our results were pretty good and unsurprising – made the semis of novice standard out of a quarter, didn’t get a callback for pre-champ standard (which also started at a quarter), got 4th (!) in pre-champ smooth, and didn’t get into the final for champ smooth (which started at a semi).  It was similar to MAC, which I feel is very comparable in terms of the level of competition.  We got one place better than last year in pre-champ smooth, so we met our goal of performing the same or better, placement-wise.  But, more importantly, our dancing felt better than ever, which is always an “I’m the king of the world!!!” sort of feeling.

From workingatanonprofit.tumblr.com

I had worked on my shaped turns being more upward (be a shark chasing its fin rather than a dog chasing its tail! Weird but effective advice) and fully extending my arms.  I have a long-ingrained fear of hyperextending them, but Alexandra Perzhu and Izabella Jundzill, two top professional smooth dancers, have the same deal with their freakishly long arms, so I just went for it. What was also really nice was cheering on and hanging out with various dance friends from all over.  The open smooth crowd is fairly small, so many of us have gotten to know each other over the years.  I was pleased to see a large group of competitors in novice and prechamp smooth – these fields have grown a lot and have become really competitive!

I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by Next Level Dancing and got to use a fantastic Dore blue peacock smooth dress, which got tons of compliments.  Loved it! Even though it was sized a bit off – a little small in the bust (hello, side-boob) and a touch too long.  Whatever, it was awesome and I was very sad I had to give it back.

Also, this happened and makes me so happy (photographer credit to Brandon): 

Also this of most of the pre-champ smooth finalists (not sure who took the picture):

I volunteered most of Friday at registration and had to deal with a ton of people failing to bring proper residency documentation (which, FYI, entailed photo ID + either a passport or birth certificate.  Or green card/visa, etc.).  Oh my goodness.  Despite this information being on the website, probably a third to half of the competitors forgot it or said they didn’t know they had to bring it in the first place.  Part of it was miscommunication from last year, but a lot was just competitor ignorance (“But I didn’t know! We’ve never had to do this before!”).  Well, do your research, read all of the rules and regulations, and you save all of us some time and energy.  Nationals is not just any competition, because a lucky few get to represent the US at world championships.  People were obviously upset, particularly with the fear that they wouldn’t be able to compete, but the organizers found some workarounds.  One competitor was so dedicated/intense that she asked a friend to break into her house to photograph her paperwork!  Other fun volunteer activities involved dealing with (mostly eastern European) families.  Some were extremely on top of things, being very familiar with competition procedures, while others just could not get their act (nor their children) together.  Some plusses of volunteering: seeing some elite competitors in normal-person mode (“oh, you’re him/her?! huh.”), meeting people, hanging out.

Spectating was awesome as usual.  I have a new favorite ten-dancer Junior II couple, and we saw lots of really excellent young dancers.  My favorites from the MAC, Earle and Charlotte, won adult champ standard. This is why (watch for the awesome body roll!):

I caught the end of the adult Latin final, which was also great.  It’s fun to predict who the finalists will be and also to try to figure out the ultimate placings.  I can’t get it 100% right, but I think I can usually figure out the first, middle, and bottom third of the finalists, usually.

Some complaints: Friday night ended early, around 9 or 10 pm, while Saturday started at 8 am and ended at about 1:45 am.  Yup.  Ridiculous.  Someone didn’t calculate the heat list correctly and/or they didn’t speed up the evening session enough.  I know you want to give the champ couples their due recognition and whatnot, but everyone wants to get back to bed at a reasonable time!  Other than that, it was a very nice event and I look forward to attending again next year, as it is supposedly in Baltimore indefinitely (a somewhat controversial topic for a different blog post, perhaps).

You Know You’re a Collegiate Ballroom Dancer When…

You think $100 is a whole lot to pay for shoes.  Ha, just wait until you see prices for legit costumes.

There’s always some sort of partnering or dating or partnering AND dating drama going on.

From RealityTVGifs

From ReactionGifs

You have no idea who your partner will be for the next competition, which may or may not be next week.

From Tumblr…somewhere.

Girls are always on the prowl for a skilled male partner.

You’re cool with sleeping on a dorm room floor for the night.

From Tumblr somewhere.  Sorry, no animated gif here.

You are borrowing a skirt from a teammate but have no idea to whom it actually belongs.

You want to get a drink post competition but have to consider whether any of the people you are with are underage.

From Tumbler user a-crosstown

You have lots of friends from colleges all over the place.  Who all seem to know each other somehow.

From giphy. I couldn’t find a fitting gif, so there you go.

You have some pretty intense ballroom crushes.  EIther opposite- or same-sex, doesn’t matter.

From someone’s blogspot.

You go from raggedy sweats as a uniform to glammed out competition mode with a flip of a switch.

Not sure where it’s from, but Disney originally, obvi.

You’re willing to drive 10+ hours to a competition but never to fly.

From Giphy

You scrounge money for occasional private lessons a couple times a semester.

From YummyPets.com

You regularly go to sleep at 3 am and wake up at 5 am to get ready for a competition.

From SurvivingCollege.com

You bring homework to a competition but inevitably don’t even touch it.

From reactiongifs

You are not quite sure how old anyone is….they could range from 17 to over 35.

You wear a costume that belongs to either the team or a team member and it has been used by at least five people in the past couple of years.

From Tumblr somewhere

You want to just leave already, be it from campus or the competition or team dinner, but it takes the team almost-literally years to go anywhere.

From Tumblr somewhere.

You just love everyone, because the collegiate ballroom dance community is a fantastic one! Much Ballroom Love!

From Tumblr somewhere.

MAC Part 2

Going back to the MAC!  It was so great that we need to re-experience it!  Just kidding. We’re competing at the Mid-Atlantic Championships this weekend, which conveniently has the same acronym.  Not much to say here…we’ve practiced a few times since the (other) MAC two weeks ago, run some rounds, and tweaked some styling in our smooth foxtrot routine.  It’s mostly a smaller competition than the MAC, so I’m going to be lazy and skip the tanning.  Our smooth events only have three couples each, though our standard events are more substantial in terms of numbers of competitors, both starting at a quarterfinal.

One thing that will be nice about this comp is my dad will be attending and plans to take lots of pictures.  He’s been very into his new hobby of photography and took some excellent shots at a recent competition.  Hopefully he will recognize me….he does not seem to register my identity (as his own daughter) very quickly when I am in full ballroom-glam mode.  It’s both sad and hilarious.

I will also be attending another collegiate competition next week, but dancing with various other people on the team and not my regular partner.  Mixing it up a bit! And even doing rhythm. Crazy, right?

Short Hair in Standard/Smooth

Well, I had written the post on ballroom hair and discussed short hair before having personal experience with it.  I’ve had about shoulder-length hair more or less all my life, until last summer, during which I chopped it all off into a pixie.  Why not, right?  For dance, it’s been a mix of experimentation and struggle with regards to how to deal with it.  So, here are some things I’ve tried and also some other options I have yet to attempt.

Option 1: Gel/slick it back with a comb, then a boar-bristle brush, spray the everloving crap out of it, and stick on IMG_1721something shiny.  Use a hairdryer on hot to seal everything in place, in between layers of product.  It’s relatively safe, but I run the risk of those scalp lines cause I have such thin hair.  It is basically the same as a normal ballroom bun without the bun part, I suppose.  Then stick on one of those stoned ornament things for ballroom.  I pinned it with mini bobby pins for this comp over my side part, but found out later than I really should just glue it onto my head with WASHABLE white glue (Elmer’s, the stuff kindergarteners use for crafts).  Don’t worry, it just kind of dissolves in a hot shower.  Please excuse my slightly crazy facial expression.

Option 2: No gel, just lots of spraying in place.  Leaves more volume, but less control. This worked for one of the days at my last competition, but then the second day, because I had not washed my hair that morning and was attempting to tame bedhead, the hair got a little wild in the back, at least by the end of the day.  Ick.  I think with more attention, this could have worked alright.  It’s less shiny, however.  Same deal with the hair ornament.  You could also stone your part or put in designs manually, but I’m lazy.

Credit: Dance to Eternity

Option 3: Add lots of product and texture.  Waves/curls/whatever, which in this case was achieved with hair wax (TIGI Bed Head for Men Matte Separation, which I usually use every day for texture) and a small-barrel IMG_1823curling iron, then tons of freezing spray (I recommend Aussie, Tresemme, or got2B, and these are relevant to all of the above styles).  Got a lot of compliments with this one, even though I thought it was just okay.  It’ll need some more practice. Pinned-in shiny hair ornament did not stay put, and I actually had to toss it off in the middle of a round because it was just swinging around.

Other options not yet explored (personally)

Champ girl (who won) at the MAC had a cool hairdo.  She had like a long pixie or short bob, I think, and slicked it all back and wrapped a wide headband with a flower on it around her whole head.  It matched her dress and was surprisingly cute.

Grow out into a short bob, long enough to gel back and create a stubby ponytail, then stick on a hairpiece/fake hair.  Will probably have to go this route soon-ish, as I’m planning on growing my hair out this summer.

Pin curls or something along those lines? I think you’d need a long pixie for that though.

I would loooove to try finger waves, but am incapable of doing it myself, and I think only some hairdressers have that skill.

For rhythm/Latin you could do the same styles, or just have a lighter touch of spray, because it’s fine to have your hair moving around for those dances.  A spiky look could also be fun, and cool asymmetrical cuts are also popular.

Ballroom Bargains, January 2015

I frequent various dance apparel and shoe websites in my free time (or to procrastinate…ahem), and was inspired by my good friend’s Lululemon blog (old dance friend, actually!) to pass on those deals to you.  I don’t know if this will become a regular feature or what, but we’ll see how it goes.  Please let me know if you have any luck with these, or insider knowledge about other websites!  Also, shop responsibly ;)

Women’s Dance Shoes:

Freed Holly Latin shoes at Danceshopper. Marked down to $59 from $119, in a wide variety of sizes. I have never tried these, personally, but my first two pairs of Latin shoes were Freed, and they were pretty good and cheaper for the UK brands.  This seems like a steal!

Capezio Lorelei Latin/social shoes at Danceshopper.  Marked down to $70-ish from $250.  They’re kind of crazy, but maybe you want them for a performance or social dancing.  Not generally recommended for competition purposes, but if you’re a unique person, do you!

Capezio Jemma Latin/social shoes at Danceshopper.  Marked down to $70-ish from $209.  I think the white/silver ones are pretty nice for social dancing or maybe even for competitions if you are super super pale.

IDS Tanya Latin shoes at Danceshopper. Marked down to $77 from $119. I think this is a solid brand, though I’ve never tried them.  Very basic but pretty criss-cross-strap Latin shoe, works for competition.

Supadance 1029 from Danceshopper. T-strap Latin shoe, comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and heel heights, priced from $87-$115.

Ray Rose Monsoon in size 8 (UK), 3-inch heel, from Back Bay Dancewear.  $60.  Very specific, but an awesome deal on a great shoe. Normally 2.5-3-times in price.

Freed Valencia practice shoes, slip-on style, 1.5-inch Cuban heel, from Danceshopper.  Marked down to $59 from $118.  I have a similar model that laces up instead, Roma, that I like a lot! I’m on my second pair of those.

Supadance 1227 oxford-style practice shoes.  $104- $118 from $139. Some really nifty patterns!  I’ve never seen stingray patterns on ballroom shoes.  Hmmm really tempted to get these myself!….but, poor grad student who spends too much money on ballroom already :(

Werner Kern Laura standard court shoes from Back Bay Dancewear, $79.  Haven’t tried this brand, but I’ve heard good things.

Supadance 1012 standard court shoes with instep strap, from Danceshopper.  $104-$126 from $149. These are pretty popular, but I prefer the diagonal strap of the 1004s. The security of the strap is really nice.

Supadance 1008 standard elasticized court shoes with round toe, from Danceshopper. $110-ish from $149, only comes in smaller sizes.  I had a pair of these and they were nice, just weren’t the right fit for my foot.  They’re quite popular.

Supadance 2003 standard pointed-toe court shoes with wraparound strap, from Danceshopper. $110-ish from $149, smaller sizes. These are a newer model, I think.

Women’s Dance Clothing (prices aren’t all listed because they are highly variable):

Zdenka Arko slitted smooth/standard skirt, M/L and red or yellow, from Danceshopper

Espen Salberg long-sleeved ruched crossover top, from Danceshopper

Espen Salberg halter-ish top, from Danceshopper

Lulu Couture Black Swan long-sleeved drapey top, from Danceshopper

Santoria Kinanu black and white top, from Danceshopper

Arc Crystal Halter Top from e.K.Clothing, $19, L turquoise color only

Sheer Overlay Halter Top from e.K.Clothing, $18, comes in larger sizes but runs small

Boy short dance pants from e.K.Clothing, $5!!! ESSENTIAL and they come in all sorts of colors to match your dresses

Santoria Miolenae Buckle practice trousers, from Danceshopper

Gaucho pant from e.K.Clothing, $18 in a variety of sizes and colors

Chula ruffled Latin skirt from e.K.Clothing, $23 in fringe sizes

Embossed lace dress from e.K.Clothing, $27, medium in black/jade.  Good syllabus USA Dance-friendly option with no sparkles.

Tulle Standard/Smooth Dress from Light in the Box, $62 from $155, variety of colors and sizes.

Men’s Stuff! (I don’t know much about these, but here are some links anyway.)

Freed Latin Competition Shoes, from Danceshopper.  Marked down to $69-80 from $138. Wide variety of sizes, though it looks like most of them are wide-width as opposed to regular-width.

Freed Standard Practice Shoes, from Danceshopper.  $69 from $138.  Lots of sizes.

Satin tie from e.K.Clothing, $4, in a variety of colors, to match your partner’s outfit or just add some general schnaz.

General site links:

Danceshopper.com sale section. US site that should have quick shipping on in-stock stuff and I believe you can still return sale items just kidding, clearance is FINAL SALE, so make sure you want it.  I ordered some men’s shoes from here recently that got stuck in customs for over a month, but I don’t think that’s normal?

Dance-shop.com clearance (from the UK and limited sizes, but great deals and it doesn’t take as long to get to the US as you might think.  I’ve gotten shoes in a couple of weeks before.  Keep in mind the exchange rate and shipping.)

DuoDance – (UK) They claim that their sales will end, but there is ALWAYS a sale going on.  Also, relatively fast shipping for overseas.

Light in the Box (China?) sells all sorts of stuff. Quality is probably all over the place, but they have some pretty good designs and are very inexpensive.  I bought a bridesmaid’s dress from them recently, and it was of surprisingly high quality and quite cheap.  I think things take a while to get made and ship to the US.  They have some insanely cheap costume dresses (under $100) that you could use for collegiate comps.  I would probably not get shoes from there, though.

VE Dance (US). Vince and Daisy are local, very nice, and have established themselves as makers/importers/makers/whatever of quality bargain dancewear – it’s less expensive than the luxury brands but very nice stuff.  And thus super popular among collegiate dancers and recent graduates.  They also travel quite a bit, so you can try on stuff in person.

Dancesport.co.uk (UK) sale shoe section and sale apparel section. Lots of good stuff, clunky-looking website, but very helpfully organized by size.  Haven’t ordered from here, personally, but I’ve heard they’re good.

Cherry Culture sale makeup – they sell mostly NYX, which is a great bargain brand and has lots of ballroom-y bright colors.